Katherine Kesler, ASID wins two Prism Awards

Hutchinson Island, Florida – Katherine Kesler and her firm Interspace Design Group walked away with two coveted Prism Awards at the ASID South Florida gala last night. The categories were Design Excellance in Hospitality for the renovation of The Mills House Hotel in Charleston, SC, and Design Excellance - Model Home, for her interior architecture and design of a model condominium at the prestigious 2700N Ocean Drive on Singer Island, FL.

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Hospitality - Model Home


2700 North Ocean Partners With Magazines

SINGER ISLAND, Fla. – In keeping with the innovative design and high quality inherent in all Catalfumo Construction and Development projects, 2700 North Ocean on Singer Island is taking style to new heights: 27 stories, twice over, to be exact.

“The dual-tower condominium resort property will showcase three extraordinary models designed by three internationally acclaimed talents,” announced Dan Catalfumo, the project’s general contractor and president of the full-service firm that bears his name.

The visionary Catalfumo approached three venerable magazines – Architectural Digest, Conde Nast Traveler and Elite Traveler – and asked each of them to select a celebrated interior designer who would create interiors for a model residence at 2700 North Ocean.

“We felt that world-class residences deserve world-class design. Therefore, in partnership with these publications, 2700 North Ocean will feature a trio of innovative interpretations of the quintessential oceanfront lifestyle that is synonymous with this premier development,” he explained.

Working with Architectural Digest on the 2700 undertaking, Charles Allem of CAD International is known for glamorous spaces that combine sumptuous materials and sleek compositions. Katherine Kesler of Interspace Design Group, who is working in conjunction with Conde Nast Traveler, has created interiors for prestigious hotels around the world. London-based David Linley, whose high-profile clients include Oprah Winfrey, Carolina Herrera, Jo Malone and others, is representing Elite Traveler.

“Each of the models will carry the stamp of its magazine namesake. Additionally, all will be available for purchase fully furnished,” Catalfumo continued. “We’re certain that prospective buyers with discerning tastes will recognize the merits of this special and unique opportunity.”



Charleston Buusiness Review 10-4-06

Hotel’s $10 million renovation nearly halfway complete

By Kathleen Dayton
Staff Writer

One of downtown Charleston’s landmark hotels is more than halfway through a $10 million renovation that hotel officials said will take the hotel back to its original grandeur.

The Mills House, at 115 Meeting Street, is undergoing a major remodeling including redecorated guest rooms and public spaces, restaurant renovations and the installation of a sprinkler system.

“That in itself is a major project,” said general manager John Edwards, who has been with the hotel for more than 20 years.

The hotel was renovated six years ago, but that was a mostly cosmetic overhaul centered on new soft goods such as bedspreads and drapes.

“What we’re doing now, the guest rooms have been completely gutted, taken down to the concrete, including the bathrooms,” Edwards said. “We’re putting in all new fixtures, tubs and sinks, and upgrading the bathrooms with granite. They turned out beautiful.”

Renovations to the guest rooms on the fifth and sixth floors of the seven-story hotel are complete, as well as renovations to the main ballroom and meeting space on the second floor. The hotel’s restaurant, The Barbados Room, and its cocktail lounge, the First Shot Bar, are currently closed for renovations.

The major renovation began in March and the target date for completion is Dec. 16, Edwards said.

“We want to get it done before the holidays,” he said. “The contractors are actually adding another crew to try to meet those deadlines.”

The 10-month-long project has meant some challenges for the 214-room hotel in the heart of the historic district. There was no way to time such an extensive project without compromising some hotel rooms during peak season, Edwards said.

“Spring is a very high-demand season, so we displaced a lot of business by not having those rooms available. Also with the fall weather and the fall tour of homes, there is certainly a big demand,” Edwards said. “There is no good time to do it and if we took the revenue that we’re displacing from not having full rooms available, it would be a sizeable amount, but it will definitely be worth it in the long run.”

Elite company

The Mills House is owned by Felcor Lodging Trust and managed by InterContinental Hotels Group.

One reason for the extensive renovations is that Felcor is repositioning itself as a hotel company and selling a number of hotels that don’t fit its business model, Edwards said.

“They’re keeping the best hotels in their portfolio and have committed capital to those hotels,” he said. “We are one of the ones they’re keeping.”

The present day Mills House was built in 1969 on the site of the original Mills House, which was built in 1853. The 19th-century hotel hosted visitors such as Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, who once helped evacuate guests during a fire.

Renovation plans for the original hotel resulted in its demolition when it was found to be structurally unsound, but certain elements from it, including wrought iron balconies and the main staircase, were salvaged. Pediments and other decorative elements were reproduced from molds of the originals.

The hotel company was careful in selecting for the project a designer who could balance the ambiance of the original hotel from 1853 with modern technology and amenities necessary for present day lodgings, Edwards said.

The hotel contracted with Katherine Kesler, president of Interspace Design Group in Coconut Grove, Fla. She has been designing upscale hotels for 25 years. Kesler has a Bachelor of Design degree from the University of Florida’s College of Architecture and has designed interiors for hotels such as Hotel du Pont in Wilmington, Del., Whitehall Hotel in Chicago and Chateau LeMoyne in New Orleans.

Kesler conducted extensive research for the Mills House project before getting started, she said.

“I studied a lot of books on Charleston,” Kesler said. “I looked at a lot of the competitive product in Charleston. It was refreshing to refer back to my history books for historic interiors because the period was so lovely and so detailed. Now, everything seems to be taking on a more minimalist approach.”

There is nothing minimal about Kesler’s design for the hotel’s interior, which includes tapestry and jacquard fabrics, rich colors and Axminster carpets, which are manufactured using an old Irish weaving method.